University of Alaska Fairbanks logo bear University of Alaska Fairbanks

News

  • Monday, January 17, 2022
  • ACEP Leads Cross-Disciplinary Research Effort to Reduce Winter Heating Costs and Air Pollution

Fairbanks winter air is polluted, and innovation is on the frontline of finding an economical and environmentally viable solution.
Temperature inversions, combined with the bowl-shaped topography, often lead to unhealthy air quality events during the winter months in Fairbanks. People are warming their houses with old wood stoves, and cars are idling unattended in parking lots for extended periods of time. It’s a necessary evil in a lot of cases; however, that doesn't mean we have to accept the status quo. 
ACEP resource economist Dominique Pride is leading a cross-disciplinary research effort funded by the National Science Foundation’s Navigating the New Arctic program to determine whether the use of electric thermal storage heaters can help mitigate ambient PM2.5 air pollution while reducing home heating costs within the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Through the project, the OneTree Alaska Participatory Action Research Teacher Collaborative, a partnership between UAF’s OneTree Alaska and Fairbanks North Star Borough teachers, will develop and pilot a science unit on PM2.5 air pollution. 
"Fairbanks households face high residential energy costs and poor air quality. Through this project, we will learn whether [electric thermal storage heaters] are a viable option for reducing home heating costs and improving air quality," said Pride.
Jan Dawe, the director of OneTree Alaska, hosted the group’s first workshop on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at the OneTree Alaska studio on the Fairbanks campus. Pride, along with environmental engineers Srijan Aggarwal (UAF) and Raghu Betha (Texas Tech University), presented an overview of the project, along with information on the science and history of air pollution. The presentations were followed by a field trip to the North Pole study site, where the teachers learned about various scientific instruments used to monitor air quality.
For more information, please contact Dominique Pride by emailing her at djpride@alaska.edu.
ACEP research assistant Alana Vilagi shows the inner workings of an electric thermal stove. Photo by Jeff Fisher